Enough time for a quick one: UEA Astrobiologists predict Earth’s lifespan

According to a new study from the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences, in 1.75 billion years Earth will no longer be able to support human life.


Researchers Andrew Rushby, Mark Claire, Hugh Osborne and Andrew Watson analysed other planets outside the Milky Way to determine how long it would take before our planet would become uninhabitable. The study showed that as with Venus, Earth’s oceans will evaporate before trapping heat in thick clouds. Four billion years or so later, Earth will be consumed by the ever expanding sun.

The study did not include global warming’s impact. “One of the assumptions built into the original model we based this paper on was a steady 300 parts per million level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Rushby said. Currently, the level of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere is much higher – and rising.

The realization that someday Earth won’t be around is psychologically disturbing for Rusby. “Along with the forces of evolution it has served to mould us into the organisms we are today,” Rushby said. “It forms the grand stage for all of our achievements, those of global significance as well as everyday trivialities of relationships and work. It is impossible to imagine that one day it will be gone.”

Habitable Zone Lifetimes of Exoplanets around Main Sequence Stars was published in the journal of astrobiology earlier this month.


About Author

hollymcdede When Holly J moved from Oakland, California to Norwich, the headlines changed dramatically from stories like “Cannabis patients forced to hide behind closed doors!” and “Interesting things are happening all the time!” to headlines like “Firefighters rescue cat stuck in tree." Since then, she has attempted to prove that Norfolk can be interesting (really!) through launching her own podcast called the Norfolk Storytelling Project. And, now, through the glorious Venue.

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November 2021
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